19.10.12

Rally Italia Sardegna: When Loeb (also) got it wrong

Sebastien Loeb is the master of the FIA World Rally Championship with 75 wins and nine titles to his name. However, his exit on stage three in Sardinia this morning proves he is human after all.

Here are five other examples of when the greatest driver in the world has hit trouble before.

Monte-Carlo, 2006: Loeb is leading by 1m16s with one stage of day one remaining when he loses control on a greasy section of asphalt and spins down a steep slope. He restarts under SupeRally rules and heroically finishes second. “I thought it was just a bit wet but it was more slippery than what I expected,” Loeb said at the time. “I went too fast and went off the road but we didn’t hit anything.”

Japan, 2007: With Loeb in a close battle for the that year’s world title with Marcus Gronholm, failing to score so close to the end of the season could have had disastrous consequences had Gronholm not retired earlier in the event. Loeb’s exit on stage 13 was put down to an erroneous pace note call from co-driver Daniel Elena. Instead of reading “minus-minus” to signal a fourth-gear corner, Elena said “plus-plus”, which meant Loeb was travelling 20 miles per hour too quickly in fifth gear.

Greece, 2009: The French legend described his crash on the Acropolis Rally as the biggest of his career. He was in third place when he slid wide and clipped a rock on a sixth-gear corner, rolling six times and inflicting substantial damage to his Citroen C4. Fortunately he and Elena were uninjured.

Poland, 2009: Loeb revealed recently that his retirement in Poland, when he struck a tree stump on the opening day of the event, was one of the most frustrating moments of his WRC career. “It was nothing but it broke the wishbone and I stopped,” Loeb said. “Finally it was a problem with the material but everybody thought I had another problem after my crash in Greece, two problems in a row.”

Australia, 2011: The Citroen legend is 2.0s ahead of then team-mate Sebastien Ogier when he goes off the road on a right-hand bend approximately halfway through stage four and rolls (pictured). “I went too fast into the right-hander because I done the mistake when I saw a split time on the dash. I was not concentrated, I didn’t brake enough for the corner and I was too fast,” Loeb admitted afterwards.